New York Suspends Lawyer for using Racist and Sexist Epithets

Matter of Teague (2015 NY Slip Op 06301):

What was once common in the law business (at least among some lawyers in the 1990s when I entered practice) is now grounds for discipline. The panel explains:

“Respondent was charged with having made patently offensive racial, ethnic, homophobic, sexist, and other derogatory remarks to attorneys, in violation of rule 8.4(h) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (Rules); insulting an administrative law judge in a public forum, and being disruptive inside of and/or in the vicinity of hearing rooms, in violation of rule 3.3(f)(2); and improperly importuning court clerks to recalendar cases even when told it could not be done, in violation of rule 8.4(b) and (d). The evidence cited by the Referee and confirmed by the Hearing Panel as upholding these charges included testimony of three TVB Administrative Law Judges: one who received complaints of disruptive or explosive conduct on respondent’s part over the years and personally witnessed such behavior on several occasions; one who was called “a disgrace” by respondent in an open hearing room during or after a contentious hearing; and one who, after reprimanding respondent for talking in the courtroom, experienced him as irate, rude, loud, and combative. In addition, three attorneys who practiced traffic law at the Manhattan North TVB testified that respondent had for years cursed and made obscene, racist comments, and uttered profanities about ethnicity and homosexuality within the public areas of the TVB; he had also threatened one of the attorneys on more than one occasion.

The Referee’s July 14, 2014, report recommended that respondent should be “publicly sanctioned” and directed to attend an anger management program, based on respondent’s use of “vituperative and unseemly remarks” made to two Administrative Law Judges and his inappropriate language used with other attorneys. The Referee noted the generally unpleasant work atmosphere at the TVB, and that inappropriate language amongst and between the attorneys “appeared to be commonplace.” She attributed respondent’s misbehavior to “poor impulse control” and a “hair trigger response.”

The Panel ordered a three month suspension.
Edward X. Clinton, Jr.

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